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An empirical analysis of ‘challenge’ as a motivational factor for educational games
 

An empirical analysis of ‘challenge’ as a motivational factor for educational games

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  • List of elements that seem to be necessary in games, or that presumably make games excellent teaching tools. Goals, potential for corrective feedback, structure & mastery criterions, ------- to fantasy narrative (other stuff from gee). Why are we not trying to systematically investigate how they work – how they engage people and maintain that engagement?
  • playing games is fun only if a sufficient proportion of the games challenges are mastered by the player
  • Challenge & flow are very abstract terms. Witho9ut some concrete guidance on what they require, its very difficult to design for them
  • This is the crux of the matter. The reason for the experiment. (i.e., the whole reason why games have been proposed as useful educational tools in the first place).
  • Not time here to discuss advantages of BA in analysing & designing games
  • …… .explained issues as diverse as employee absenteeism (Redmon & Lockwood, 1986), teen pregnancy (Bulow & Meller, 1998), classroom behaviour (Billington & DiTommaso, 2003) and, interestingly for the current study, the tactics of American Football games (Reed, Critchfield & Martens, 2006).
  • There will be games that they score very high on and those that they score very low on
  • it is possible that participants chose to re-play games based not on their success at that game, but based on some more basic feature of game-play, such as the number of stimuli presented or the speed of presentation. BUT From examination of graph it does not appear that the particular physical features of any of the six game types presented were sufficient to influence the choice of game made in stage 2 of the experiment
  • This finding is particularly surprising in light of literature of ‘appropriate challenge’ and ‘flow’
  • So, for half of the participants, an ‘appropriate level of challenge’ appeared to constitute complete mastery of that game.
  • – a level where they accomplish most but not all challenges on their first attempt -

An empirical analysis of ‘challenge’ as a motivational factor for educational games An empirical analysis of ‘challenge’ as a motivational factor for educational games Presentation Transcript

  • An empirical analysis of ‘challenge’ as a motivational factor for educational games Conor Linehan * , Ben Kirman * , Bryan Roche # * Lincoln Social Computing Research Centre # NUI Maynooth
  • Introduction
    • Background
      • Games as tools for education
      • ‘Appropriate challenge’ and flow
    • Measuring motivation (Behaviour Analysis)
    • Methodology
    • Results
    • Discussion
  • Games as tools for education
    • Games are good at 1) engaging players and 2) motivating them continue playing.
    • Delivering educational programmes through game-like structures should allow for engaging and intrinsically motivating education.
    • But we don’t know what game-like features are necessary……
    • Moreover, there’s very little evidence to show that games ARE effective as educational tools.
    should
  • Games as tools for education
    • O’Neill, Wainess & Baker (2005) - review - despite the thousands of articles available, only 19 presented a rigorous quantitative or qualitative analysis of educational outcomes from computer games.
    • … ..And the results of these contradictory!
    • A lot of myths, rules-of-thumb, presumptions. Not very much evidence.
  • Appropriate Challenge & Flow
    • One presumption is ubiquitous – that games must offer ‘appropriate challenges.’
    • … suggests that players will not be motivated to play a game that they do not find challenging.
    • So, games can’t be too easy or too difficult or players will lose interest
    • Related - a flow state is said to occur when the player experiences appropriate challenge in a game (i.e., it is neither too hard and frustrating or too easy and boring).
  •  
  • Appropriate Challenge & Flow
    • But no studies have experimentally examined what challenge & flow mean in games
    • Scoring 100%?
    • < 100%?
    • (How much less than 100%?)
    • OR
    • … ..entirely subjective and dependent on each players’ unique history ?
  • Appropriate Challenge & Flow
    • The games requirements appear to contradict the educational requirements
    • … ..the learner must have a goal of reaching 100% mastery in educational games
    • Not congruent with ‘Appropriate Challenge’
      • If players prefer not to reach mastery at a game, (but prefer some less stringent but appropriate challenge), then forcing them to do so may lead to a loss of player motivation.
      • If players like to reach mastery – then this idea of flow and appropriate challenge seem unnecessary
  • Introduction
    • Background
      • Games as tools for education
      • ‘Appropriate challenge’ and flow
    • Measuring motivation (Behaviour Analysis)
    • Methodology
    • Results
    • Discussion
  • Measuring motivation
    • One crucial problem - there does not appear to be any existing objective measure of motivation in games.
    • Behaviour analysis - o f particular relevance, operant choice procedures (i.e., Herrnstein, 1961) provide an objective and quantitative means for evaluating game players’ preference for games or game elements.
  • Operant choice procedures
    • Simple idea
    • Individuals tend to divide their time and effort between two or more simultaneously available behaviour options proportional to the reinforcement that is contingent on each (Herrnstein, 1961).
    • Games - players will choose to play games that offer the highest level of reinforcement
    • This choice is our measure of preference , motivation to continue playing
  • Introduction
    • Background
      • Games as tools for education
      • ‘Appropriate challenge’ and flow
    • Measuring motivation (Behaviour Analysis)
    • Methodology
    • Results
    • Discussion
  • Methodology
    • We allowed players to play six simple games before asking them to choose which one to re-play
    • Stage 1: Play all six games in randomised order.
    • Stage 2: Choose & Play one of them again
    • Within each game:
      • Had to choose whether to ‘save’ or ‘destroy’ each game character in each game.
      • Different stimuli presented across games.
      • Score increased on correct response.
  •  
    • A spectrum of games, from those that are slow and easy, to those that are fast and complex.
    • Should allow for a distribution of player success.
    6-fast 6-med 6-slow 6 stimuli 2-fast 2-med 2-slow 2 stimuli Fast Medium speed Slow
  • Method
    • Remember, for educational games
    • If we find that players prefer not to reach mastery at a game, forcing them to do so may lead to a loss of player motivation.
    • If we find that they like to reach mastery – then this idea of flow and appropriate challenge seem unnecessary
    • Q1 – Do players enjoy reaching mastery at a game?
    • Q2 – If they don’t enjoy mastery, is there an ‘appropriate’ level?
  • Method
    • By looking at which game was chosen in stage 2, and what the player previously scored on that game in stage 1, we can answer these questions.
    • Recruited fourty-three participants (24 male, 19 female), all aged 18-25.
    • 3 eliminated for not attending to experimental task
  • Results
  •  
  • Results
    • 11 chose to re-play games in which they scored over 90%
    • 9 chose to re-play games in which they scored between 80% and 90% correct.
    • Thus, half of all participants chose to re-play games in which they attained a score of 80% or above.
  •  
  • Results
    • Very few (10%) participants chose to re-play games in which they attained scores of 46% or less.
    • The remaining 40% chose games in which they scored between 46% and 72%.
    • None chose to re-play a game in which they scored between 72% and 82% in stage 1.
  • Results
    • Q1 – Do players enjoy reaching mastery at a game
      • 11/40 chose games 90%+
      • 20/40 chose games 80%+
    • Q2 – If they don’t enjoy mastery, is there an ‘appropriate’ level?
      • There does not appear to be one level of success that was generally preferred, with 90%+ surprisingly being the most preferred.
  • Discussion
    • If we found that players preferred not to reach mastery at a game, forcing them to do so may lead to a loss of player motivation.
    • But this was not the case for 50% of participants
    • So forcing players of educational games to reach mastery seems ok
    • Ed. programmes that require mastery should not be ignored just because of games lit on appropriate challenge
  • Discussion
    • More generally:
    • The concept of ‘appropriate challenge,’ as crucial to the motivation inspired by a game, must be reconsidered.
      • Half of participants liked games in which there did not appear to be a challenge
      • The rest of the scores were widely distributed
    • In designing educational games - aiming to provide all participants with an appropriate level of game challenge will apparently alienate rather a lot of potential players.
  • Discussion
    • Behaviour analysis explanation :
    • Operant choice procedures tell us that players will choose the most reinforcing game.
    • Very few chose the game on which they scored the most points.
    • Although 50% did choose games on which they previously recorded a high (80%+) score.
    • So, not as simple as saying the points acted as reinforcers.
    • What ARE the reinforcers in games??
  • Contact
    • Dr. Conor Linehan
    • Lincoln Social Computing (LiSC) Research Centre, School of Computer Science, University of Lincoln, Brayford Pool, Lincoln, LN6 7TS
    • [email_address]
    • +1522 837084